** Obama, Romney Tied In Key States **
The long, hard-fought campaign to be president of the United States for the next four years finally comes to an end with the two viable candidates visiting several states Monday for one last attempt to break what polls indicate is a nearly deadlocked race.
Only a handful of the country's 50 states are considered to be virtually tied, led by Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin, along with Virginia, Colorado and Iowa. The small state of New Hampshire joins those six as states where neither candidate is considered to have a clear lead ahead of Tuesday's election.
On Monday, incumbent President Barack Obama returns to Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio to hold political events, before heading to his hometown of Chicago, ((Illinois)) where he will be on election night.
Republican challenger Mitt Romney's agenda for Monday includes a morning stop in Florida before trips back to Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire. He will spend election night in Boston, in his home state of Massachusetts.
Along with the race for president, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 Senate seats are being contested in Tuesday's election. Analysts generally say Republicans will continue to hold their majority in the House, while members of the president's Democratic party could maintain their slim majority in the Senate.
** US Soldier to Appear in Court for Afghan Massacre **
A U.S. Army soldier accused of an Afghan village massacre is due to appear in a military courtroom Monday, where prosecutors will for the first time lay out their case against him.
Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, who is 39 years old and the father of two, is alleged to have walked out of his southern Afghanistan military base under the cover of darkness March 11, gunning down 16 people, including nine children, in nearby villages. Some of the bodies were set afire.
U.S. forces have paid compensation to families of the dead and to those wounded in the attack.
The preliminary hearing Monday at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in (the northwestern U.S. state of )) Washington is an Article 32 hearing designed to determine if Bales should face a court martial.
Relatives of the victims and witnesses are expected to testify via videolink from southern Afghanistan.
Bales could face the death penalty if convicted of the shootings. The U.S. military has not executed a service member in five decades.